Tommy Vance

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Tommy Vance : biography

11 July 1940 – 6 March 2005

Tommy Vance (born Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston, 11 July 1940Vance’s year of birth has been given, variously, as: 11 July 1940 (); 11 July 1940 (); 11 July 1941 (); 11 July 1943 () and 11 July 1943n () – 6 March 2005) was a British pop radio broadcaster, born in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. He was one of the few music broadcasters in the United Kingdom to champion hard rock and heavy metal in the early 1980s, providing the only national radio forum for both bands and fans. The Friday Rock Show that he hosted gave new bands airtime for their music and fans an opportunity to hear it. His radio show was a factor in the rise of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. He used a personal tag-line of "TV on the radio".

Life and career

Early life

Born as Richard Anthony Crispian Francis Prew Hope-Weston, Vance left home at 16 to join the Merchant Navy (discharged 1 October 1956), and began his radio career in the USA under the name ‘Rick West’. He took the name ‘Tommy Vance’ at the radio station KOL in Seattle from a DJ who had failed to turn up after the station had heavily promoted and paid for expensive jingles which were already recorded.

While at KOL, Vance was recruited by the Top 40 programming consultant Bill Drake, to join his team of "Boss Jocks" at the emerging West Coast KHJ radio in Los Angeles (aka Boss Radio). Vance held the evening airshift at KHJ for several months in late 1965. During this period, it was alleged that Tommy decided to return abruptly to the UK, after running into an unresolvable problem with the U.S. immigration authorities, regarding being drafted for the Vietnam War.

Pirate radio

Upon his return to Great Britain, he joined Radio Caroline South (where he used Jack Costanzo’s version of the "Naked City Theme" as his signature tune, subsequently working for Radio Luxembourg and Radio London.

BBC World Service

In the late sixties, Vance presented the hugely popular weekly programme "Pop Club" on the BBC World Service. Each installment of the programme started with Cliff Richard. Members of the "Pop Club" got special badges and membership cards. Every week Vance read listeners’ letters and played requests.

Radio 1

In 1967, he was part of the original line-up at BBC Radio 1, presenting the "progressive" show Top Gear along with John Peel. He stayed at Radio 1 into the early 1970s.

Commercial radio

Vance was part of the original line-up at the London station Capital Radio — the first legal commercial pop station to broadcast on land in Britain — in October 1973, initially co-hosting the morning show and then playing reggae and soul music on a weekend show. By 1976, he was also on the Portsmouth ILR station Radio Victory.

He played a pirate radio DJ in the 1975 film Slade In Flame.Film end credits

Back to the BBC

He returned to Radio 1 in November 1978 to begin a 15-year stint hosting the show for which he is best remembered — the Friday Rock Show. He was to become associated with heavy metal and rock music; his deep, resonant, booming voice and catch-phrase ‘classic cuts’ have been much imitated.

He also had a two-year stint (10 January 1982 to 1 January 1984) hosting the Sunday-afternoon Top 40, where he showed knowledge of and enthusiasm for a wide range of music, and displayed a similar keenness when he hosted Top of the Pops around the same time. His shows were syndicated on the BFBS, so that he became known in Germany as well. As well as presenting the best-selling singles chart of 1982 and 1983, he also presented the equivalent show in 1991 although not presenting the weekly chart at the time. He also deputised on the Top 40 for Richard Skinner (in 1984 and 1985), Bruno Brookes (in 1987) and Mark Goodier (in 1991 and 1992).

When the BBC’s new radio station for London, Greater London Radio (GLR), was launched in 1988, Vance presented the drivetime show mixing album-orientated rock and current affairs dubbed "rock and rolling news". Vance departed Radio 1 in March 1993.